I went to a Summit Metro Parks event “Earth Day Bird Feeding” and fed a few birds from my hand. At Nature Realm, I’ve seen people feeding birds from their hands before, but I don’t think I ever brought seed with me. Luckily, the lady at the event gave me a free handful to use, and I got a female cardinal and two chickadees to partake.

It was a gray, drizzly, cool day, and when I arrived, there was only one other person plus the ranger lady. It wasn’t a presentation, but some displays with information and the lady would answer questions and hand out handfuls of seed. I started on the deck where the event was, but there were no birds over there. I then went on the trails, at first standing in place for some time, then walking around until I found birds.

The guy who was there at the beginning was down by the bench near the pond, a popular spot for hand feeding birds. He didn’t have luck with birds there, but did get a squirrel to eat from his hand. It also briefly hopped on his back and ran across it.

Walking, I came across a handful or so of cardinals eating stuff from the path and nearby. I slowly approached them. Some flew into the trees or left, but one female was less timid. I knelt down and put my hand almost to the ground. She eventually worked her way over in front of my hand, grabbing seeds one by one and eating them. She took 3 or so before deciding that was enough and flying off.

My arm got tired holding my arm out continuously. I probably could’ve switched hands, but I didn’t. I walked around holding out my hand just in case it caught a bird’s attention. I came up to another cardinal, male, on the ground, but this one kept its distance.

Eventually, I came upon a tree in which I saw two chickadees, who are known to be less timid around humans. I stopped and tried to position my hand enticingly. They looked interested and soon came down, landing on my hand, grabbing a seed, flying into the tree, and slowly breaking the shell to eat it before coming back. Their little claws felt weird, a little prickly on the skin of my fingers. They were light but maybe more heft than I would have thought. Between the two they probably flew down and grabbed maybe 8-10 seeds before they flew off.

As I was feeding them, a grandfather had come up behind me and was semi-narrating the birds’ behaviors to his grandson. The grandson had some seed and eventually made his was over by me, but by then the chickadees had left. He kept pausing for several seconds, then moving. I think he wasn’t patient enough to tempt the birds.

After that, I went back to the ranger, gave her back my unused seeds, and told the ranger of my success, plus that I had verified that a tree I had asked her about was indeed eastern redbud, as she had offered as a possibility. Just then, we heard a loud cracking from behind us, turned, and saw a tree fall on the other side of the pond. Some kids came running over to see, followed by their parents. There wasn’t really any wind or anything, so I’m not sure why it took the plunge just then.